During the winter, when the Central Valley’s fields are quiet, the Westside Pool Hall in Mendota fills with farm workers, like Jose Gonzalez Cardenas.
“If there’s no water, we’re not going to have work,” Cardenas said through a translator.
According to a report from University of the Pacific, thousands of Valley farm workers could be out of work this summer if the drought persists. Maria Rivera is one of them. She already knows she won’t have work in the melon fields this year.
“The company I work for has already told its employees that they’re only going to plant one field,” Rivera said, also through a translator. That's down from about 60 in a typical year.
Mendota is a poor city on the west side of Fresno County that revolves around agriculture. City Council member Joseph Riofrio owns this pool hall. He says the community is already bracing for the drought’s impact.
“We’re the facilitators that need to coordinate how people will get food, and how they’re going to get help paying the light bill. There are so many problems that come with being in this part of California, and being dependent on agriculture,” Riofio said.
Down the street, at La Fiesta Meat Market, farmworker Aurelio Duran said if it doesn’t rain, he might leave the region.
“Right now, I’m on unemployment. Perhaps I will need to look for work somewhere else,” Duran said through a translator.
During the 2009 drought, unemployment in Mendota topped 40 percent and the Valley as a whole lost 6,000 farm jobs. With water even scarcer this year, the economic impact could be even worse.
California state agencies have released a long-term plan for water conservation. The proposal makes permanent some emergency water conservation measures already in place to deal with the state’s drought.
California regulators hear from residents and farmers concerned about a plan to provide more water for threatened fish in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries.
The State Water Project will deliver more water to California cities and farmland in 2017 than it did this year- at least initially.
(AP) - California water agencies that spent more than $350 million in the last two years to pay property owners to rip out lawns are now trying to answer whether the nation's biggest lawn removal experiment was all worth the cost.
Five years of drought exacerbated wildfires across California. Fire and flood agencies say those burned areas now have an increased risk of flash flooding.